6th June 2017 - Robert Loynes: The Egyptian Mummy – Ancient Craft; Modern Science.
The Egyptian mummy has, for centuries, been a source of fascination. This was often driven by the association with magic properties and the occult. From the nineteenth century archaeologists and Egyptologists commenced a more scientific and structured approach to the investigation of these human mummies. Unfortunately, until the advent of medical imaging in the closing years of the nineteenth century, the only method of investigation and analysis was to subject the mummies to dissection. This had the obvious disadvantage of resulting in complete destruction of these precious and unique artifacts. In the era of the twenty first century we have the advantage of using advanced medical imaging techniques – CT scans – to perform virtual autopsies – “virtopsies”. This enables the analysis of anatomical abnormalities and the ability to attribute them (in most cases) to disease, damage or the mummification/embalming process. Analysis of another part of the process of mummification – wrapping – can help to identify unexpected features.
This presentation will cover our current knowledge of the motivation of the ancient Egyptians to preserve their dead, various aspects of current mummy research including some related to mummies in the Manchester Museum as well as others (if time permits) from across Europe and the USA – together with a brief explanation, a primer, of the science behind medical imaging.
After a career as an Orthopaedic surgeon in the West Midlands Robert returned to University and obtained a PhD in Egyptology in 2014. His interest is in the use of medical imaging in the analysis of Egyptian mummies with reference to the embalming techniques in particular and noting any pathological abnormalities as they appear. It's surprising how varied are the details of such processes when comparing different eras and locations in Ancient Egypt.